Dating someone with anxiety?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is a disorder that’s not going to go away easily, and in fact, it can become a part of who you are. Some days, you’ll feel in control and other days it can control you. Since it’s something many people struggle to deal with, finding a supportive significant other can be especially tough.
Finding somebody who fully supports the parts of you that need to be supported is something that requires a lot of communication, and a lack of communication can hinder your relationship.
With that being said, it can be hard for a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder to articulate how they are feeling, and how their partner can support and help them. For the partner, it’s sometimes hard to identify what the person needs at that moment.
We’ve come up with 4 tips for supporting a partner with Anxiety.
Do the Research
The number one thing we recommend you do is…to understand it. Researching your partner’s condition is a great way for you to understand Generalized Anxiety Disorder and is a great way to ensure you can emphasize and provide support to an often confusing condition. (Yes, confusing to even the person who is experiencing it).
Asking your partner if they would like for you to be with them during their therapy session can provide you with some valuable insight about their specific case of anxiety, and can teach you how to handle their heightened anxiety or a panic attack.
It’s important to know that not everybody requires the same things during heightened anxiety, and learning what your partner needs during these moments is important.
2. Know it won’t ever completely go away
People have tendencies to want to minimize or not fully express the extent of the anxiety levels a person may be feeling. Phrases like “you’re going to be OK,” or “just calm down”, can come from an honest-to-goodness intention to be helpful, but it often couldn’t feel farther from the truth.
So when your partner is experiencing heightened anxiety, let them know that you’re there for them and that you will help them with whatever they need.
3. Don’t tell them why they should or shouldn’t be feeling anxious
Anxiety triggers are anything but rational. So, you reiterating that reality by sharing what should or shouldn’t make someone anxious is simply not a good way to stoke a productive dialogue. While you may think that you’re helping, you could be communicating to your partner that there’s something wrong with them.
4. Give legitimate help
When you ask your partner if they need help or how you can help them, follow through with it. Don’t give empty promises. It’s possible you might be asked for support in a way that doesn’t make sense to you. If that’s the case, it’s important to recognize that the act of supporting your partner how they want to be supportive will show how much you care and are there for them.
We recommend that you sit down with your partner and talk about the condition they may be experiencing. This will help you figure out how you can help them before they reach the point of heightened anxiety or a panic attack, and furthermore, when they do reach heightened anxiety you’ll have a plan that can help you help them.
Write a plan with tips and tricks that the person with anxiety has learned works best for them.
That way you can improve it as you go along by keeping track of what worked and what didn’t. This will make it easily accessible to both of you, and you’ll be on the same page when it comes to dealing with your partner’s anxiety.
Finally, it’s important to remember to act with empathy - not sympathy. Try to understand your partner’s journey. You may never fully be able to understand your partner’s anxiety, but it’s possible and important for you to understand how you can be helpful, loving and supportive when they need it.